Hollywoodland Sep 4 2014
WILDE AT HEART
Some said it was a hasty decision but few could fault the results.

This photo shows American actress Jean Wallace and Hungarian actor Cornel Wilde, née Kornél Lajos Weisz, emerging from Los Angeles Superior Court after their marriage ceremony, which took place five days after Wilde was granted a divorce from his first wife Patricia Knight. Press stories described the wedding as quick because Wallace and Wilde had dated for perhaps five months. One newspaper told readers Wallace “married actor Cornel Wilde in a hasty ceremony… kissed the flustered Mr. Wilde hastily [and] hastily brushed aside the honeymoon…” Hasty or not, the marriage lasted three decades—a success by many measures, especially in Hollywood. The photo is from today in 1951. Side note: Wilde was famous for his haircut, which was unusual at the time and provided ample sport for gossip columnists, but his shaggy 'do influenced a generation of young men. 

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Vintage Pulp May 7 2014
CAT PEOPLE
It may be a classic but it’ll probably leave you wanting something more.


The Black Cat has been called one of the greatest horror films ever made. Taken in context it’s creepy, no doubt, and it stars spookmeister Bela Lugosi alongside Boris Karloff, he of the sinister widow’s peak and cinderblock head, so they alone make it somewhat unsettling. But it was produced in 1934, and much has changed since then in terms of what is truly terrifying. Plotwise, what you have here are two honeymooners in Hungary who encounter a mysterious traveler and who all end up stuck in the dreaded hilltop manse—not the gothic pile you would expect, but rather a linear, art deco box. The house is occupied by Karloff, a sort of war criminal, and it turns out Lugosi has traveled there with revenge in mind, for it seems Karloff had something to do with the deaths of Lugosi’s wife and daughter. The honeymooners are basically hapless bystanders to this situation, and their approach to the predicament doesn’t remotely resemble the approach you or I would take, but people had better manners back then. Eventually, though, manners are jettisoned and that’s when the movie gets interesting.

Watching two honeybaked hams like Karloff and Lugosi square off is rather entertaining, we gotta say, even if the plot doesn’t entirely hold together. But all that matters is the mood and the shadows and the evil glances and the fact that there can be only one winner—or none, considering the house is wired to self destruct. Of special note, by the way, is the music, which is almost continuous, and consists not of compositions made for the film, but rather a greatest hits assortment of Beethoven, Bach, Liszt, Schumann, and Tchaikovsky. It all gets a bit over the top, in our opinion, but you do get to enjoy probably the first movie usage of Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565” (if indeed Bach wrote it, something that is in dispute). You know the tune—it’s the gloomy, edifice shaking organ solo most people associate with the 1962 film Phantom of the Opera. Well, Karloff’s character plays it here. We won’t lie—even the most chilling piece of music ever written can’t make The Black Cat scary, but if you have sixty-five minutes and consider yourself a horror buff it’s still worth the time. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1934. 


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Vintage Pulp Feb 4 2013
BIG SIR
The case of the missing voodoo sex fiends.


Above and below, the mix of fiction, fact, hysteria, photos, and art that is NYC-based Volitant Publishing’s Sir! This February 1954 issue has a great portrait of Gina Lollobrigida, along with articles on the danger of Peeping Toms, “Hungarian” dancer Yvonne Davis, and how to spot frigid women. The promised story on sex in the Caribbean, which the cover art is supposed to illustrate, does not appear in the magazine. We’ve never seen that happen with a tabloid. Maybe the writer had a Eureka! moment during his field research: Wait—I'm having sex in the Caribbean. Why would I ever go back to New York? In any case, the story is MIA.

Sir! had a few different looks over the years, but the 1953 and 1954 issues, with covers painted by Mark Schneider, were particularly interesting. After 1954 Sir! mixed in photographed covers, which it had already done during earlier years. The post-1954 paintings were mostly by other artists, though Schneider’s work appeared on at least three post-1954 Sir! annuals. The quality of his covers varies, but all had a uniquely lurid mood that many supposedly better artists couldn’t touch. He sure had us looking forward to that Caribbean voodoo sex story. Anyway, we’ll put up a collection of Schneider’s work later so you can see what we mean.
 
In other news, we recently bought a stack of fifty mid-century tabloids from the U.S., and assuming the international mails work as they should, we will have those in hand soonish. We got the lot for fifty bucks, which was really exciting, since we’ve seen some individual issues from the stack being auctioned elsewhere for as much as $100.00. There’s no thrill quite like finding a great bargain. Wait—did we really just say that? God, we’re starting to sound like our girlfriends.

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Hollywoodland Jun 27 2012
LIGHT AS A FEATHER
Mansfield proves that love can make a broken man whole.

In Hollywood, nothing seems to last. Jayne Mansfield and Hungarian bodybuilder Miklós “Mickey” Hargitay divorced in 1964, but this great cover of Whisper from this month in 1957 shows them a year before their 1958 marriage. They’re blissful and striking a pose they repeated for the press over and over—i.e., ex-Mr. Universe Hargitay demonstrating his strength by easily lofting the zaftig Mansfield in his arms. The occasion of this photo was Hargitay’s arrival at NYC’s Idlewild Airport. Mansfield had waited on the tarmac for the plane to land, then sprinted to her sweetheart and leapt into his arms.

You may notice Hargitay’s swollen eye and bandage. He was returning from Washington, D.C., where he had been performing in the Mae West Revue, a stage show West—the noted maneater—had stocked with assorted hunks of tasty beef. One of those hunks was an ex-wrestler named Chuck Krauser who adored West and had more than a professional relationship with her. When Hargitay threw some unkind words West’s way, Krauser threw three punches Hargitay’s way and down went Mickey. A witness described the fracas this way: “He planted a tremendous haymaker on Mickey’s head.” Hargitay emerged from the beatdown with a black eye, a cut lip, a limp—and grounds for a lawsuit, which he quickly filed.

The interesting thing about the episode re: Whisper is that it happened in June 1956—exactly a year before the above cover appeared. And Whisper not only digs up an old photo, but takes the liberty of reversing it. Hargitay was actually slugged over the left eye by the right-handed Krauser. In any case, it’s amazing how happy Hargitay looks considering the entire world knew he’d gotten his ass whipped. And consider also that he was definitely feeling some aches and pains.

But perhaps having an ecstatic Jayne Mansfield waiting for you raises spirits and dulls hurts. Either that or those bodybuilding competitions had trained Hargitay to keep a smile locked on his face even when he was straining every muscle in his body. We should mention, though, that Mansfield did her share of heavy lifiting too, by being publicly supportive concerning the fight. She observed that Mickey could have killed Krauser, but was too much of a gentleman. It might not have been true, but take note girls—that’s how you bolster your hurting guy’s fragile ego.

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Vintage Pulp | Sex Files Jan 16 2012
SKIN FLICKS
A new tabloid hits the newsstands with a twist on the usual formula.

In our continuing search for rare magazines of high entertainment value (if sometimes dubious quality), we stumbled across the above gem—the first issue of the self-described sexploitation film graphic Flick. Published in the U.S. out of Libertyville, Illinois, it was basically just reviews of x-rated films in tabloid form. The publishers admit in their introductory editorial that the tabloid market is glutted, but insist America needs a magazine that helps porn consumers separate the wheat from the chaff. They do it with utter seriousness and, as a bonus, also throw in some musings on film history, with discussions of Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, Theda Bara, Jean Harlow, and Hedy Lamarr, who all had pre-Hays Code flirtations with screen nudity.

It might be difficult to imagine actors appearing nude on screen during the 1920s and 1930s, but the idea back then was that, because the medium was considered an art form, motion picture nudity was no different from nudity in sculpture, photography or painting. Theda Bara's and Jean Harlow’s screen nudity was merely implied, but Hedy Lamarr went all the way in her 1933 Czech-made romance Ekstase, aka Ecstasy, in which she ran starkers through the woods, giving audiences a gander at her backside and breasts. She was known at the time as Hedy Kiesler, but it’s her.

There’s also a non-nude love scene containing what some critics believe is the first cinematic depiction of an orgasm. As you can imagine, Ekstase was controversial. Only four-hundred prints were ever made, and most of those were butchered by censors. By the 1940s, the only complete copy known to exist was in Russia. It had first been Hungarian property and had been exhibited in Budapest in ’33, but because the Hungarians had fought alongside Nazi Germany and helped conquer swaths of Russian territory in the early 1940s, when the Russians reversed those gains and occupied Budapest in 1944, they sort of helped themselves to a few choice cultural treasures.

Elsewhere in this inaugural Flick you get reviews of the adult films A Hard Man’s Good To Get, Sisters in Leather, College Girls, and Jack Hill’s first full-length effort Mondo Keyhole. The editors remind readers that their magazine is a collector’s item. At the time—January 1970—they probably imagined it would be quite valuable in forty-one years. Well, we got it for $4.00. But just for the hell of it, maybe we’ll hang onto it for another forty-one years. You never know. By the way, if you’re curious, you can actually see that famous Hedy Lamarr nude scene here. It is not a complete version, though. We doubt a complete one exists. See ten scans from Flick below. 

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Vintage Pulp Dec 14 2011
LACK OF CONTRO
If it isn’t on the internet did it ever really exist?

Talk about an obscure movie. F.B.I. contro i killers stars Mark Damon, Nadia Grey, Annie Gorassini, and the lovely Dominique Boschero, all of whom are known actors. It was directed by Akos Ráthonyi, a Hungarian whose résumé goes back to the 1940s. But no webpage, no wiki page, and no database anywhere gives any details on the production. After scouring our usual resources, then searching only Italy-based or Italian language pages, and finally doing both with cross-referenced data, we found only a few ad container pages that had bounced our search terms back at us, and one page that had a small version of an alternate poster from the movie. So we’ve got no info on this one. This highlights both the wonder and weakness of the internet—it disperses otherwise inaccessible information with infinitely more efficiency than any other real world medium, yet limits our observation of that world to that which has been digitized and uploaded. And now that we’ve gotten all quantum and whatnot, anyone out there with info on F.B.I. contro i killers—either the movie or the poster art—feel free to drop us a line. 

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Vintage Pulp Oct 5 2011
READY FOR FREDDY
Fred Fixler’s talent transformed sleaze into high art.

Hungarian-born Fred Fixler’s first career was as a diamond cutter, but by the early 1950s his focus shifted to art, which he studied in both the U.S. and France. He began illustrating paperback covers, and for years was an illustrator for the sleaze publishing imprint Brandon House. During that time his instantly identifiable style resulted in some of the most dynamic paperback covers ever seen on U.S. book racks. The piece above, with its shadowy lovers, is a prime example. Brandon House used Fixler as the primary illustrator for their line of lesbian paperbacks, and because of his talent, these books, which originally sold for around one dollar, go online today for in excess of seventy-five bucks. Fixler also worked in the commercial art field, and taught at schools like the California Art Institute, The Brandes Art Institute, and Parsons School of Design. Below are several more great Fixler pieces that we corralled from around the internet. You can see more of his art by searching online, and learn a lot more about him from his website

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Modern Pulp Sep 26 2011
HUNGARY EYES
Hungarian graphic designers re-imagine promo art for a classic American series.

We have something a little different today, a bit of modern pulp from Central Europe. These are Hungarian posters for George Lucas’s Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi, which incidentally were going for the equivalent of $350.00. Yes, seriously. Premiere dates on these are a little obscure, but the Hungarian re-releases took place in 1997, so we’ll go with that. Of course, it’s worth pointing out again that the main reason wonderful posters like these make it to the foreign marketplace is that the designers are freed from the anti-artistic influence of Hollywood marketing departments, which tend to be hands off when promoting big re-releases overseas (new films, of course, have the same promo art as in America, i.e. incredibly bad, which in turn leads to the sad sight of your humble authors trying to slink unnoticed past displays for Saw 3D and Zookeeper, but that’s another post entirely). See a great Star Wars poster from Poland here. 

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Vintage Pulp Feb 9 2011
POLICE SKETCHES
To make a long story short.

During our Paris trip a while back we found this trio of roman-policiers from Editions Ferenczi, 1952, and Editions J. Ferenczi & Fils, 1947, and after some hard bargaining snatched them up for six euros. J. Ferenczi was Hungarian-born Joseph Ferenczi, one of the main guys in Parisian pulp publishing during the first half of the twentieth century. These three booklets were written by Jean Voussag (Le diamant de Valparaiso), Paul Tossel (Trafic en orient), and Jean Dryer (Le mystérieux T… i…), and they run thirty-two pages, just about the right amount of time for a commute via train or metro. Too bad this concept has died—we’d certainly buy a cheap mini-book for a bus ride or short plane flight. Considering how traditional publishing has fallen on hard times, you think they’d explore the possibility that this market still exists. Anyway, you’ll be seeing more French pulp from us soon. Our plan is to empty our French shelf in the next couple of months and tote all this stuff back to the original booksellers to trade. Will they actually take it back? Who knows? But any excuse to go to Paris in the spring is a good one. 

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Vintage Pulp Nov 9 2010
PHOTOGRAPHIC EMERY
Wanna head out and grab a quick Biro? Don't forget your wallet.

We mentioned Hungarian illustrator and photographer Emery Revesz-Biro last week and said we’d dig up some more work by him. Well, here’s another of his pieces—a travel poster he did circa 1930. Biro was respected in his own time, but we doubt even his originals sold for anything close to what his reprints fetch today. This one, which is in less-than-flawless condition and isn’t exceedingly rare, goes for $1,200. Which means that, sadly, posting it is the closest we’ll ever get to owning it. Three more unaffordable Biros below. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
March 31
1930—Movie Censorship Enacted
In the U.S., the Motion Pictures Production Code is instituted, imposing strict censorship guidelines on the depiction of sex, crime, religion, violence and racial mixing in film. The censorship holds sway over Hollywood for the next thirty-eight years, and becomes known as the Hays Code, after its creator, Will H. Hays.
1970—Japan Airlines Flight 351 Hijacked
In Japan, nine samurai sword wielding members of the Japanese Communist League-Red Army Faction hijack Japan Airlines flight 351, which had been en route from Tokyo to Fukuoka. After releasing the passengers, the hijackers proceed to Pyongyang, North Koreas's Mirim Airport, where they surrender to North Korean authorities and are given asylum.
March 30
1986—Jimmy Cagney Dies
American movie actor James Francis Cagney, Jr., who played a variety of roles in everything from romances to musicals but was best known as a quintessential tough guy, dies of a heart attack at his farm in Stanfordville, New York at the age of eighty-six.
March 29
1951—The Rosenbergs Are Convicted of Espionage
Americans Ethel and Julius Rosenberg are convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage as a result of passing nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union. While declassified documents seem to confirm Julius Rosenberg's role as a spy, Ethel Rosenberg's involvement is still a matter of dispute. Both Rosenbergs were executed on June 19, 1953.
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